Juan Arambula is the lone independent lawmaker at the State Capitol. The Assemblyman spent the legislature’s month-long break in his Fresno district. He says angry voters there weren’t shy about speaking up:
“The constituents that I hear about, whether I’m going out to dinner, total strangers will come up and say, aren’t you so and so and why aren’t you guys doing what you’re supposed to be doing?”
Arambula says both Democrats and Republicans are to blame for the stalemate over how to close the 19 billion dollar budget hole. But he says his constituents don’t care about the inside baseball - they just want action:
“They just want a budget to get passed and they don’t care how we get it done.
Democratic Senator Leland Yee held a budget town hall meeting in his San Francisco district during the break. He says the number one concern was possible cuts to schools. And Yee says his constituents were not opposed to tax increases:
"There were a consistent voice that you know, we’re more than happy to pay a little more money. Just be accountable for the money and just make sure that the money goes to children and education.”
But Republican Assemblyman Dan Logue says raising taxes is the last thing Californians want. He says in his Chico-area district, people are disgusted with the lack of action at the Capitol:
“We’re fiddling with the violin while Rome burns. This budget should have been settled last month. The key ingredient with the problems in Sacramento is the people of CA have absolutely no trust in CA doing the right thing.”
GOP Assemblyman Chuck DeVore spent the break in his Orange County district. What did his constituents have to say?
"Nothing at all, and the reason being that we haven’t begun issuing IOU’s yet so it’s kind of one of these things that’s out of sight, out of mind.”
But the budget mess will be top of mind for lawmakers as they head back to the Capitol this week. Democratic Assemblyman Kevin De Leon says his Los Angeles-area district is home to a lot of working class Californians who rely on state services – and he’ll head back conscious of the concern his constituents feel about proposed cuts. He says the coming weeks will be rough:
“Psychologically a lot of members have been beaten and battered because no one could have foreseen the magnitude of this financial crisis and it’s had a very emotional impact on the members of the legislature.”
Though budget talks continue at the Capitol, there’s still no deal in sight. The State Controller says without a spending plan in place, he’ll have to start sending out I-O-U’s as early as August.